IELTS Reading Section | Tips & All You Need to Know About

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IELTS Reading Test

The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is a globally recognized assessment of English language proficiency designed for non-native speakers seeking higher education or immigration opportunities. Administered collaboratively by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia, and Cambridge Assessment English, this test is available in two versions tailored to different objectives.

For individuals aiming to pursue education in English-speaking countries, there’s the IELTS Academic version. On the other hand, the IELTS General Training version is intended for those seeking employment, training, or migration prospects in English-speaking nations. Both IELTS Academic and General Training evaluations encompass listening, reading, writing, and speaking tasks to gauge the candidate’s English language competence.

There are, basically four sections of this test, namely, listening, speaking, reading and writing sections.

The reading and writing components vary between the academic and general training versions.

IELTS Reading section


The IELTS reading segment is strategically structured to assess the candidate’s reading skills. It encompasses not only comprehending the text but also grasping the underlying ideas and viewpoints presented. Furthermore, the test evaluates the candidate’s capability to formulate an independent perspective on the material. This reading section of the IELTS spans a duration of 60 minutes, featuring three reading passages and a cumulative total of 40 questions awaiting responses.

The passages provided for candidates are tailored to suit those applying for undergraduate courses. These selections originate from reputable sources such as books, journals, magazines, and newspapers. They are crafted for a non-specialist audience and delve into academic subjects of general interest. As previously mentioned, the IELTS reading test comprises three sections, each containing extensive passages. Responding to each passage necessitates tackling 10-14 questions.

The pivotal distinction between the Academic and General Training versions of the IELTS lies in the content within these three sections or passages. Now, let’s delve into the distinctive attributes of the IELTS reading section in both the Academic and General Training versions.


The topics one has to deal with in the test might range from science and  history to environment, from the descriptive and factual to the discursive and analytical. But it’s not overbearing because the test commonly uses passages from professional and academic journals, textbooks, reports, and newspapers. This section also contains visual materials, for instance, graphs, diagrams or illustrations.


The topics comprising in general training test includes articles from journals, newspapers, magazines, advertisements, notices, booklets, official documents, leaflets, timetables, instruction manuals, books and the topics tend to relate to daily life.

There are three sections, divided in the general training test:

In Section 1, there are 2 to 3 very short (and relatively simple) texts related to general  topics that are relevant to everyday life in an English-speaking country. e.g. hotel advertisements.

In Section 2, there are two short texts, related to work in some way, such as a job application or company handbook.

And Section 3 contains a longer text discussing a more academic or abstract topic.


Overall there are 40 questions that have to be attempted by the candidate in 60 minutes. Sounds hasty, right? Chill, with practice you will get adapt to this acceleration.

The  types of questions asked will be

  • Multiple choice:– It has to be there as a traditional question type. The candidate will be asked to select the perfect answer from the options given. Focus on the keywords in the question before start scanning the whole passage.
  • Matching:– In contrast to the elementary task of associating images of bats with their corresponding spellings, a task assigned during our second standard, you will now encounter a more advanced challenge. You will be tasked with pairing a series of “headings” with individual paragraphs within the passage. Among these headings, one will precisely encapsulate the central theme of the passage, while the remaining options will prove incongruous with the passage’s content. Additionally, aside from matching headings, questions may involve aligning information or sentence endings with the pertinent sections of the passage.
  • Sentence completion and short-answer questions:– This question tests your ability to understand the essence of the theme that has been presented in the passage and the sentence completion questions asks the candidate to fill in a blank at the end of a sentence with some words taken from the text.
  • True/false/not given:– The task for the candidate involves determining whether the information presented in the question aligns with the content of the passage. When the information in the question statement concurs with details in the text, it signifies a TRUE alignment. Conversely, if the question statement contradicts any aspect found within the passage, the candidate is instructed to designate the response as FALSE.


 The scores obtained out of 40 are then converted into the IELTS 9- band scale. Each question worth one mark. The parameters for the reading module examines your understanding, and adaptability to the english language  and of course vocabulary plays an important role in getting you a good score.

IELTS Reading tips and strategies

  1. Focus on the topic:– The title of the passage clearly reflects what is going to be the prominent point of discussion in the content. Because the questions regarding the passages will have much to do with the topic, focusing on the heading will give you an insight over the topic and the themes imbibed in the content.
  2. Review the passage:– Prior to engaging in a concentrated reading of the passage, it is advisable to initially acquaint yourself with the keywords interspersed throughout the text. These pivotal keywords, or words that seem to accentuate the central theme of the passage, will serve as the cornerstone of your perspective on the subject matter. Familiarize yourself with your pre-existing notions and insights pertaining to the topic, striving to glean the essence of the passage during your initial scan. When constructing your responses, these keywords—such as characters, locations, and dates—will naturally resurface in your recollection. One noteworthy advantage of initiating the search for answers by addressing the simpler inquiries within the text lies in the discovery of solutions to other questions concurrently. As you seek out these straightforward responses, you inadvertently stumble upon the resolutions to other, more intricate queries.
  3. Vocabulary:– Not being able to complete the task within the periphery of the time and achieving the score that you wish for, is the main consequence when you are stuck with a word that you can’t understand and decide where to use. So you should  get familiar with the words and phrases that you find difficult by learning vocabulary from practice reading passages.
  4. Speed:–  the restricting  time limit that, you will be given of 60 minutes to complete the whole section. It challenges your reading skills with a consistent speed. This means, that you have to develop a pace while reading the passages and in parallel, observe the themes and ideas accumulated in the content.
  5. Practice:– unless you practice regularly on your reading skills, your masterfulness will not be reflected to the examiner. Make it a regular practice to read, either it be newspaper or stories, and mark the words you are unfamiliar with. Also craft a meaningful abstract of what you have understand from that piece of work. There are always practice papers and infinite resources available online to sharp your brain and make it adaptable to the style of the actual test. 

Now that you know the scheme of IELTS reading section, fold your sleeves and start improvising in this field if you aspire to turn your dreams of discovering the world into reality.

Good luck.

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